Standing tall as the heart of the world jewelry industry, the New York headquarters of Cartier is one of the most recognisable buildings in the city, but not many people know that it was bought with just a hundred dollars in cash and a million dollar double stranded pearl necklace. With such ambitious ventures and endless ingenious designs, Cartier High Jewelry has risen to near-divinity, having among its customers and connoisseurs celebrities, influencers and numerous royal families. Today present across all seven continents of the globe, in more than 125 countries, the Designer Jewelry brand was founded in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier, in Paris, and further expanded by his son Alfred and grandsons Louis, Pierre and Jacques, who made Cartier a worldwide phenomenon.
Cartier and India: An Entwined Legacy of Splendor
Collections like the Al Thani by Cartier clearly highlight the Indian artistic sway over the designer jewelry brand that began in the twentieth century, with the brand moving away from designs consisting solely of diamonds and pearls; instead, the new Cartier High Jewelry incorporated colorful gemstones, emeralds and rubies, influenced by the Indian and Art Deco styles of the Maharajas and the Mughals. One of the most elegant and remarkable Cartier pieces, the Patiala Necklace, containing more than three thousand diamonds, was crafted for Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala. Floral engravings, multi-colored stones, reflections of Indian architecture – it is clear that the relationship between India and Cartier was a turning point not only for the brand, but for the entire designer jewelry world.
Maharaja Sir Ranjitsinhji and the design for the Nawanagar Cartier diamond necklace, via Jewellery Insights by Katerina Perez
The Patiala necklace with the 234.65-carat yellow De Beers diamond, via TN Horse Trails
Majestic Collections and Pieces – Crafting History
There is no way one can talk about Cartier without mentioning their exquisite and exceptional pieces. We picked 8 spectacular designs and collections that embody the undaunting spirit of the iconic luxury brand.
Cartier Love Band – a Mark of Love Eternal
Crafted in 1969, the Cartier Love Band is one of the most admired and brilliant creations of the jewelry house. Designed as an oval fitting band, it sits on the wearer's wrist spreading all its opulence, the Cartier bracelet is accompanied by a screwdriver, usually presented to be worn by the love interest, signifying unity and beauty in love.
Tutti Frutti Collection – a Cartier High Jewelry Classic
With numerous colorful stones inset within Indian royal and art deco patterns, the Tutti Frutti collection by Cartier marked new explorations into stone carving and usage of gemstones. Its floral motifs containing leaves, berries, fruits and flowers, as crafted into brooches and necklaces, enamored several royal and celebrity personages and have continued to do so ever since.
Panthere Collection – Embodying Ferocity and Magnificence
Originating as a custom designer jewelry piece for the Duchess of Windsor in 1948, the Panthere collection by Cartier sports a sleek and beautiful panther design. First crafted by Jeanne Toussaint, known for her love of the feline creature, the designer jewelry collection was an instant success for Cartier, and is today synonymous with the Cartier High Jewelry impressions.
Cartier Tank Watch – a Study in Style
“I wear a Tank because it is the watch to wear.” Andy Warhol’s statement summarizes all that the Cartier Tank Watch stands for. Designed by Louis Cartier in 1917, the watch is modeled on a military tank, evoking boldness and endurance. Graced by personalities such as Princess Diana, Jackie Kennedy and Gary Cooper, the watch is one of the most admired pieces by the designer jewelry brand.
Cartier tank watch
Cartier Mystery Clock – Capturing Time and Magic
In 1912 the brand came up with the Cartier Mystery Clock, with its two hands seemingly suspended in the air, which has captivated the world ever since. Encased in rock-crystal, the mechanism hidden at the bottom of the assembly moves the two crystal discs of the clock face, making the hands appear to be floating.
Santos de Cartier Wristwatch – an Innovation for the Ages
One of the first wristwatches to be manufactured, the Santos de Cartier was originally designed to make timekeeping convenient, and the product itself is one of the landmark creations of the brand, adorning numerous celebrities and royalty. Distinguished by its unique and comfortable yet luxurious design, the watch is one of the most sought after pieces by the designer jewelry brand.
Sunrise Ruby – A Unique Treasure of Nature
Called a “unique treasure of nature” by the Swiss Gemmological Institute, the Sunrise Ruby is the world’s most expensive ruby and gemstone. Set between heptagonal diamonds, it is one of the rarest and most exceptional pieces ever mounted by the jewelry brand. The ruby single-handedly increased the demand for colored gemstones, and remains one of most glorious feathers in Cartier’s hat.
Hope Diamond – A Mystical History of Hope
First sold by Pierre Cartier to Evalyn Walsh McLean in 1912, the Hope diamond was set within an oval frame inlaid with smaller diamonds. Its spectacular craftsmanship under the Cartier lineage, known widely for its prestige and reliability, resulted in a piece much admired and coveted. Today, the diamond sits in the National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C., where it enchants hundreds of viewers every day.
The notorious Hope Diamond on display at the Smithsonian, where it has resided since 1958 via, Forbes.com
The bill for the Hope Diamond, which Cartier sold to the McLeans for $180,000 in 1912, via Forbes.com
The Pursuit of Elegance and Innovation
The Cartier High Jewelry today stands tall as pioneers for the entire jewelry industry. Their innovations, such as being among the first designer jewelry brands to incorporate platinum, and inventing the recent garland design, established Cartier as a fearless and ambitious brand. [Agreeing to it being expensive, but years later, more payback, standout pieces] Although the timeless pieces are lavish in both design and pricing, yet buying them is much more an investment, for not only is one able to enjoy their distinctive sublimity every day, but their worth increases exponentially with time; exemplary designs like the Panthere collection or the tutti frutti are today worth more than thrice or four times their original prices.
The brilliance and grandeur of any brand is not only in its products and designs, but also in the core ideals which it stands for. The Cartier High Jewelry motto, as coined by founder Louis Cartier, encompasses all that this designer jewelry brand embodies and perfects: “Never imitate, always innovate.”